Science fiction is not merely fantasy, made up of the dreams of an imaginative author. Even dreams can have a basis rooted in reality. And sometimes, maybe science is actually inspired by the works of speculative authors. For example, H.G. Wells is one of my all-time favorite authors, and he dreamed up quite a bit of fantastical technological wonders in many of his works.
He wrote about men landing on the moon, a giant bomb that killed using radiation, and he imagined giant machines coming to invade our Earth, shooting lasers at us - long before lasers were invented. Indeed, many things Wells wrote about has come to pass.
So I give you just a handful of the many wondrous science fiction technologies that have now become a reality:
Drones. You're hearing quite a bit about drones doing all kinds of survailance and actually firing weapons upon unsuspecting enemies in the Middle East. Unfortunately, Iran recently admitted that it had captured one of our drones and is reverse-engineering it. But drones have been in science fiction for some time now. I remember Frank Herbert's Dune books containing killer drones. I remember the 1980s Flash Gordon movie there was a drone zipping around and shooting people. And of course, with the AI takeover of Skynet, you had drones flying around dispatching terminators all over the place and wiping mankind off the face of the Earth.
Jurassic Park. Okay, well not quite yet - but according to recent scientific articles, scientists are close to being able to take the DNA preserved in permafrost of the long-extinct Woolly Mammoth, and through the power of cloning, actually create a living specimen. It's a little freaky, but it sounds so cool. Pushing aside any of the moral implications, could you imagine going to the zoo and watching a real Woolly Mammoth walking about?
Hoverboard. It's become an iconic science fiction film scene. In the movie Back to the Future II, Marty McFly jumps onto one of these beauties and somehow gets away from a pissed off Griff (Biff's cyborg grandson). I remember when the director, Robert Zemickis, said that hoverboards were in fact REAL, but were deemed too dangerous for kids. But reality is just around the corner. Although the hoverboard is not ready for mass marketing, a French artist created a working hoverboard!
Cyborgs. For me, the first real cyborg I ever saw was Darth Vader. Part man, part machine. Science fiction is full of them, especially comic books. There's even a comic book hero named - Cyborg! But you think cyborg technology is only in sci-fi? Wrong! Scientists have developing all kinds of human interface/mechanical parts to help amputees. The US military, in fact, has several prototypes of robotic exoskeletons that soldiers can wear that will enhance their abilities. Mech Wars anyone??? But the one example of cyborg technology that is just amazing is the one developed at MIT to help the blind see again.
Time Machine. To me, this is the Holy Grail of science fiction technology. How many TV shows, books, and movies have employed the use of time travel? Quantum Leap is one of my all time favorites, along with Doctor Who. Christopher Reeve might have been able to travel back in time just by thinking about it (there's a word for that, and it's schizophrenia). But a Russian scientist claims to have built a REAL time machine!
Although everyone knows you can buy one on ebay: